Irish-Catholic priests are raising the alarm about a concerning and dramatic worldwide increase in demonic possessions. Rev. Pat Collins of Ireland spoke to Newsweek recently, in an attempt to break down the situation, including what’s causing such a steep rise in instances. “It’s only in recent years that the demand [for exorcisms] has risen exponentially,” he said, urging the Catholic church to increase the number of priests trained to take on exorcisms both in Ireland and in other areas of the world.
• Collins’ mindset isn’t unique; the the International Association of Exorcists (IAE), which is made up of 400 Catholic leaders and priests, also believes there has been a sharp rise in demonic possessions. They, too, are calling for more exorcists to address the issue.
• Father Collins also admits that people may assume they are possessed to avoid facing the reality of a mental health diagnosis. “What I’m finding out desperately, is people who in their own minds believe – rightly or wrongly – that they’re afflicted by an evil spirit,” he said.
• Some religious leaders are pointing to this confusion in diagnosis as a failure of the mental health system. Others believe many of the toughest mental health cases may really be a symptom of demonic involvement rather than true mental illness. The Catholic church states it is able to identify the difference in most, if not all, individuals.
• The Catholic church confirmed that every diocese is supposed to have a trained exorcist on staff. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Those who are trained in exorcism are also trained to determine the difference between mental health concerns and true possession.
• The Church recognizes the difference in approach and symptoms. “Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science.”
• Although religion is becoming more decentralized and personal compared to previous years, multiple surveys of everyday Americans identify that most believe in evil and/or the Devil. Nearly 10 percent of all Americans have experienced or been directly involved in an exorcism. Exorcisms were not limited to people of the Catholic faith, and were identified in many Christian faiths practiced on American soil.
Do you think this is a sign of the times and reflects the growing wave of people walking away from religion? Or do you think it’s mostly a mental health issue?